Mega Story: After what Former President Bush went through, are we all at risk?

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George W. Bush and Dr. Filiberto Rodriguez-Salinas.
George W. Bush and Dr. Filiberto Rodriguez-Salinas.

Should we all get stress tested?

Mega Doctor News

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

Former President George W. Bush’s diagnosed heart disease is a strong indicator that stress tests could be back on the table even for people that do not show any symptoms.

The ex-president is recovering from the implantation of a cardiac stent. The surgery was performed to restore blood flow to one of his coronary arteries to prevent a heart attack.

To see him in his running shoes or on his bike, it’s hard to believe Former President Bush is 67 years old.  He is very fit.  A stress test during a routine physical recently revealed he had a blockage in one of his arteries.

Some people feel the president’s stress test and subsequent stent placement may have saved his life by averting a heart attack.  But in other quarters there’s some concern that the president should never have even learned he had the blockage in the first place.  In fact The American College of Cardiology actually recommends against routine stress testing in people who have no symptoms or risk factors for heart disease.   Furthermore EKGs and stress tests are no longer universally recommended to clear a patient before non-cardiac surgery (i.e. liposuction or cataract surgery).

Should you get a stress test?  For some people the answer is a resounding “yes.”   Treadmill tests are still widely recommended for people over 40 with diabetes, anyone with symptoms of heart disease including shortness of breath on exertion, or chest pain.  Stress testing is also recommended for anyone who’s had a heart attack, or reason to believe they are at high risk for having one.

The blockage was discovered during Bush’s annual physical exam at the Cooper Clinic in Texas and the procedure was performed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital,” according to a statement.

Patients who undergo stent placements must take oral anticoagulants (blood thinners) for life to keep blood clots from forming around the stents. Patients are at risk of stroke from blood clots and a buildup of white blood cells around the stent. Coronary stents are typically used to prevent heart attacks in people who are diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease caused by Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries or clogged arteries).

Atherosclerosis means hardening or clogging of the arteries caused by fat deposits or plaque (cholesterol and other fat) on the walls of the arteries. It is the main cause of heart attacks, strokes and chest pain. The buildup of plaque attracts white blood cells to the area, which causes inflammation that precipitates the hardening and thickening of the artery walls over time.

Although both sexes can be diagnosed with Atherosclerosis, the disease is mainly diagnosed in men over age 45.

Atherosclerosis is a disease that can progress for many years without any symptoms until the artery is 40% clogged by plaque. Symptoms vary depending upon the location inside the body where the artery is clogged.

Atherosclerosis Symptoms include:

  •  Chest pain
  •  Abdominal, neck, back, jaw, or shoulder/arm pain
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Perspiration, excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble walking

Atherosclerosis risk factors include hereditary (family history of cardiovascular disease), smoking cigarettes, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and poor dietary habits (high trans fat, high cholesterol, high salt diets). Studies show that people with low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol) are at high risk of developing Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

Dr. Filiberto Rodriguez-Salinas, a seasoned thoracic surgeon in the Rio Grande Valley said that it is important for people to do something even easier when Mega Doctor News asked him about the stress test.  “My answer is do your calcium score ‘Heart Scan’, now days it cost less than $100 dollars and find your personal risk of heart disease,” he said.

The procedure that Dr. Rodriguez-Salinas is referring to is performed to check for any plaque or calcium build up in the coronary arteries which causes heart disease or can lead to a heart attack. Cardiac Scoring is a better predictor of coronary events than cholesterol screening or other risk factors.

Dr. Rodriguez-Salinas is a Board-certified cardiac surgeon with outcomes that have been ranked #1 in the State of Texas for heart surgery with a mortality rate of less than 1% received the HealthGrades™ Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award for 2008, which was awarded to only four hospitals in Texas.

He is also the President and founder of My Heart Spa with a Mission statement that reads, “At the Heart Spa we wish to make you FEEL as good on the inside as you look on the outside. We will help you live a better life through education of proper diet and exercise, stress reduction through yoga, as well as relaxation at our wellness spa ‘The Heart Spa’.”